Sometimes children who come into foster care are medically fragile. It is possible they have been severely emotionally damaged by their previous families. Often, there is no plan to reunite them with their families. Foster parents may need to provide extensive medical support, or mount an intensive salvage operation to try to turn these children around.
Some of these children may have been allowed to become delinquent, self-harming, or abusers of other children, animals, or adults. Some have been using drugs, prostituting themselves, or have been in deep trouble with the police. The last few decades have seen the development of a corps of highly-trained, dedicated, specialist foster parents who look after these children for the long-term. They provide a treatment or a therapeutic, safe environment for them, which may supplement professional medical care and/or therapy. They are very experienced, often having raised families of their own already. They have had extensive education in techniques of dealing with very ill, troubled, and/or difficult children.
This is a profession in itself and in most cases it is paid accordingly. Both parents in a two-parent home may have given up outside work, with fostering now their full-time job. They may be the 24-hour staff who never go off shift, in order to provide the continuity of care that these children need. There is extensive contact with social workers and other professionals. As in long-term fostering, many of these children develop permanent parent-child relationships with their foster parents.
Most states limit the number of children with treatment or therapeutic needs who can be placed in one home, unless it is a licensed Group Home. This may also be called “Special Rate Foster Care.”